Premiere Stages Announces Talk-Back Series For “The Beautiful Dark”

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Logan Riley Bruner and Dana Benningfield in rehearsal for The Beautiful Dark at Premiere Stages. Photo by Taylor Crichton.

Logan Riley Bruner and Dana Benningfield in rehearsal for The Beautiful Dark at Premiere Stages. (Photo by Taylor Crichton)

UNION – Premiere Stages at Kean University has announced dates for its popular talk-back series in conjunction with their highly-anticipated production of 2013 Premiere Stages Play Festival Winner, The Beautiful Dark by Erik Gernand, which premiered Thursday night.

In this affecting new play, a woman’s life is turned upside down when she suspects that her teenage son may be planning an attack on a school. Is her son capable of the unthinkable? And if she’s wrong, will she ruin any chance he has at a normal life? Premiere Stages will offer four free interactive discussions (or “talk-backs”) with the audience, affiliated artists, and guest speakers directly following the performances on Sunday, Sept. 8 at 3 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 13 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 14 at 3 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 22 at 3 p.m. All talk-backs will be moderated by resident dramaturg, Clare Drobot.

Playwright Erik Gernand and producing artistic director John Wooten headline the talk-back scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 8. Gernand, a writer and filmmaker, was the winner of T. Schreiber Studio’s 2012 New Works Project, and a finalist for the Woodward/Newman Drama Award. His award-winning short films have screened at more than 100 film festivals worldwide, and been broadcast on IFC, PBS, and the Logo Channel. Director John Wooten has developed and produced numerous new plays at Premiere and elsewhere, including Follow Me to Nellie’s, The Good Counselor, and Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods, all of which have been honored by the American Theatre Critics Association. He is also the founder of the Premiere Stages Play Festival, an annual competition for playwrights born or residing in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, which has received over 2000 submissions since 2005.

Pamela Capaci, Executive Director of Prevention Links in Roselle, will join Premiere Stages for a post-show conversation Friday, Sept. 13. Prevention Links’ mission is to foster healthy, sustainable communities by empowering people through education, collaboration, and linkages to resources. With community defined as any environment where people live, work, or learn, Prevention Links seeks to leverage existing local resources, eliminate the negative effects of drugs, alcohol, and violence in neighborhoods, and assist in innovating improved educational and health institutions in our local neighborhoods. Prevention Links focuses on identifying and enhancing existing strengths within the individual, family, school, and work setting to serve as the first and most valuable resource.

On Saturday, Sept. 14, Christine Adkins-Hutchison of the Kean University Counseling Center will be on hand following the 3 p.m. matinee for a question and answer session. The Kean Counseling Center is an important resource for Kean University students who desire additional assistance and support during their time in college. Students do not need to be in crisis to come to the Center, which offers individual, couples and group counseling, drug and alcohol counseling, psychiatric services and educational programs.

The Beautiful Dark’s closing performance, scheduled Sunday, Sept. 22 at 3 p.m., will feature a post-show dialogue with Shondelle C. Wills-Bryce, who currently works with the New Jersey Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) Division of Prevention and Community Partnerships (DPCP) as the Administrator for the Office School Linked Services (OSLS). The overarching goal of OSLS is to actively partner with youth, parents, schools, and the community to provide young people with the tools needed to nurture and support their mental, social and emotional health.

The OSLS contracts with a host of providers to integrate a range of services for youth in or near their schools, in order to equip our youth to successfully graduate and gain employment and/or higher learning in a healthy and drug-free manner. Wills-Bryce currently serves on the Executive Board of the advocacy organization known as the Black Administrators of Child Welfare (BACW), located in Washington, DC. Prior to joining DCF, Wills-Bryce received professional training in Social Work Administration and Community Organizing at the Hunter School of Social Work. She was previously employed with the Council on Accreditation (COA), a not-for-profit accreditor of human and social service organizations located across the United States and Canada.

The Beautiful Dark runs September 5 – 22, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. Standard tickets are $30, with discounted rates of $20 for seniors, and $15 for students and patrons with disabilities. Significant discounts for groups of 10 or more apply. All performances take place in the Zella Fry Theatre in Vaughn Eames Hall, located on the Kean University campus at 1000 Morris Avenue. To purchase tickets or request a season brochure, call the Kean Stage Box Office at 908-737-SHOW (7469) or visit Premiere Stages online at www.kean.edu/premierestages.

A special benefit performance of The Beautiful Dark is scheduled for Sunday, September 15, beginning with a pre-show reception at Kean University’s Human Rights Institute at 1 p.m. The performance, scheduled for 3 p.m., will be followed by dessert and champagne with the cast. Tickets are $100 ($70 of which is tax-deductible), with proceeds to benefit Premiere Stages programming which supports emerging artists by developing and producing new plays. To purchase tickets to the benefit, or request more information, call 908-737-4092.

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